Continuing this week where it seems that everyone is either moving jobs or getting new ones in the museum industry (and let’s not forget magazines either, what with the news of Cathleen McGuigan at Architectural Record and John Czarnecki at Contract), here we have yet another in what’s sure to be a week that will go down in history. After six years as the head of New York’s American Folk Art Museum, director Maria Ann Conelli has announced that she will be stepping down in order to take a career back in academia, where she had spent a large portion of her pre-Folk Art career (she had served as a dean at the Fashion Institute of Technology and before that, at Parsons). What to make of her exit in the middle of the museum’s ongoing financial crisis, wherein they’ve been unable to repay the more than $30 million in debt they’ve been carrying around with them, is anyone’s guess. Though last summer when we reported on that heavy financial load, Conelli herself said, “We’re not on the verge of closing,” Bloomberg reports that the museum has “missed $3.7 million in payments to a debt service fund connected to bonds issued to construct a new building, it said in a January filing.” So after Conelli heads out in July, her successor is sure to inherit much of that stress. Here’s a bit from her farewell statement:
There are a number of events, exhibitions, and projects that I am proud of. I will always carry with me extreme gratitude to the staff for their dedication, professionalism, and loyalty; the trustees for their commitment to the museum; and the unwavering support I’ve received from you, our most loyal and generous friends. It is therefore with a profound feeling of affection that I depart in July, but I leave knowing that the museum is in the good hands of our Deputy Director, Linda Dunne, and our Board leadership, who will continue to uphold our mission of educating with our world-class collection of art.